Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bulletin: David Gavitt: Michigan; No compensation for victim of discredited arson 'science' - who spent 27 years in prison before being exonerated; No compensation for any victim of junk science in Michigan - or any other wrongly convicted person in Michigan. "Michigan is one of 20 states that offer no help or compensation to wrongfully convicted people — not even a night in a motel." (This rank injustice must surely be rectified by the legislature. HL); Lansing City Pulse;

Michigan is one of 20 states that offer no help or compensation to wrongfully convicted people — not even a night in a motel. In Michigan, 55 people have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated since the mid-1980s, and about 1,600 nationwide, according to the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic. In 1985, David Gavitt´s house in Ionia caught fire. His wife and two children died and he was seriously injured. Gavitt was convicted of arson and murder, even though the house was not insured, and prosecutors did not find a motive. In 2012, the case was re-opened by the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic, the only clinic in the state that handles non-DNA cases. Modern fire investigators, working with the Ionia County Prosecutor´s Office, found that the signs of arson used to convict Gavitt in 1985 have been discredited since then. A new investigation found no evidence of gasoline or accelerant. Gavitt was released June 26, 2012, after serving 27 years in prison for a crime he didn´t commit.........On May 7, Gavitt, Davis and four other wrongfully convicted people gathered at the State Capitol for a hearing on the compensation bill. One of the six was Julie Baumer, convicted of first-degree child abuse and thrown into prison for more than four years until her conviction was overturned in 2009. Scans of the baby´s brain revealed that a stroke, not shaking, was the cause of death.........The latest success for Cooley´s Innocence Project is a classic tug of war between DNA testing and junk science. On May 22, after hundreds of hours of work by the Cooley Innocence Project team, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Court of Appeals must consider a request by a man convicted in 1989 of murder, Gilbert Lee Poole Jr., for DNA testing in the Oakland County Circuit Court. Poole has been in prison 26 years. The Court of Appeals or dered the DNA testing July 6. A controversial Michigan forensic dentist, Allan Warnick, testified that Poole´s bite marks were on the victim.
"[Warnick] has been associated with three or four cases in Michigan where he´s been 100 percent someone´s teeth marks are on a victim´s body," Mitchell-Chicon said. "There´s no scientific support for that whatsoever, and yet Gilbert Poole is still in prison because that was used against him." But the evidence in the Poole case is not in the best condition. The case hangs, literally, on a thread. "The blood on the bloody stones and grass was lifted with a piece of thread and blood typed," Mitchell-Cichon said. Blood typing uses up a lot of evidence. "Hopefully we have the threads and hopefully we have some visible blood on there." Cooley´s Innocence Project team didn´t take much time to celebrate the recent progress in the Poole case. DNA testing "gets better as we speak," Mitchell-Cichon said, but it´s not a magic bullet. "I´d love to be put out of business," she said."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bulletin: Kelli Jacobsen; Washington State. Nanny convicted of manslaughter - but acquitted of the more serious charge of first-degree manslaughter in the 2011 death of Ryder Morrison. It was her second trial on the charges after her first ended in a hung jury two years ago.Tri-City Herald.

"Richland nanny Kelli Jacobsen was found guilty Wednesday of second-degree manslaughter. The jury of eight men and four women acquitted her of the more serious charge of first-degree manslaughter in the 2011 death of Ryder Morrison. It was her second trial on the charges after her first ended in a hung jury two years ago.........Doctors have said Ryder’s death on June 22, 2011, happened minutes or possibly up to 24 hours before he was rushed to the hospital. His mother, Tawney Johnson, stopped home during her half-hour lunch break but was back at work when she got the call her son was going to Kadlec. He died on the operating table a day after his first birthday. Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller had argued to jurors that Jacobsen gave different stories after Ryder was injured. She has claimed he fell a short distance while playing on a toy. Her attorney Shane Silverthorn told the jury said she was in shock and panicked, so her stories may have sounded slightly different. And he suggested that someone else who had access to Ryder in the hours before he died abused the boy."

Bulletin: Rajesh and Nupur Talwar: India; Major development: World premiere of Meghna Gulzar's 'Guilty' - "a fact-based investigation into their controversial murder convictions - to be featured as a "special presentation" at Toronto's up-coming International Film Festival. (TIFF); "'Another TIFF-bound film sure to attract attention dramatizes a tragedy back in the Indian homeland that made worldwide headlines...A controversial guilty verdict sent the teen’s parents to prison, but a best-selling new book and now this film have reawakened public interest and debate." (Toronto Star);

"Another TIFF-bound film sure to attract attention dramatizes a tragedy back in the Indian homeland that made worldwide headlines. Meghna Gulzar’s Guilty, which will world premiere as a special presentation, is a fact-based investigation into the 2008 deaths of Aarushi Talwar, 14, who was a cousin of the Toronto Star’s Shree Paradkar, and 45-year-old Hemraj Banjade, a domestic worker employed by Aarushi’s family in Noida. A controversial guilty verdict sent the teen’s parents to prison, but a best-selling new book and now this film have reawakened public interest and debate." (TIFF describes 'special presentations' as "high-profile premieres and the world's leading filmmakers."
See TIFF web-page devoted to this film:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bulletin: Kelli Jacobsen; Washington State; keprtv reports that, "The fate of a former Richland nanny is now in the hands of a jury. Attorneys made their closing arguments Tuesday in the aggravated manslaughter trial."

"The fate of a former Richland nanny is now in the hands of a jury. Attorneys made their closing arguments Tuesday in the aggravated manslaughter trial of Kelli Jacobsen.  Jacobsen is accused of killing one-year old Ryder Morrison four years ago. The child was in her care in the hours before he died of massive head trauma. The prosecution set out to prove that only Jacobsen could have been responsible for injury. The defense argues that someone else could have been responsible. In his closing statement, defense attorney Shane Silverthorn said one witness testified that Ryder's mother, Tawny Johnson, was irritated with Ryder the night before. Doctors said Ryder's injury could have been caused by violent shaking, the question is by whom......... But the prosecutor argues Tawny Johnson was consistent in her story after Ryder's death. But, Kelli Jacobsen changed her story no less that six times..........Doctors testified the child had previous broken bones and 22 bruises when he arrived at the hospital. This is Jacobsen's second trial. Her first trial in 2013 ended in a hung jury. The jury continues deliberating tomorrow."
See NBC report: "This is the second time both Ryder's family and Jacobsen's have had to sit through a trial. The first time, two years ago, the jury couldn't reach a unanimous decision. Now, that long road is finally nearing its end. "Kelli's telling the ER, I was in the kitchen, I was preparing something, I heard a thud and came out and Ryder was on the ground and he was  unresponsive," said (defence lawyer Shane) Silverthorne. "There's no allegation that the defendant wanted Ryder to die. There's no allegation either that the defendant even wanted to hurt Ryder," said (prosecutor Andy) Miller. The jury is out and they will now have to decide whether Jacobsen is guilty of somehow causing a severe head injury that led to the little boy's death."

Commentary; Evan Kohlman: "Doogie Huckster expert: "A Terrorism expert’s secret relationship with the FBI;" Writer Trevor Aaronson asks how expert - and how independent - the U.S. government’s go-to expert witness in terrorism prosecutions really is? 'The Intercept.

COMMENTARY: "Doogie huckster expert: A Terrorism expert’s secret relationship with the FBI," by Trevor Aaronson, published by The Intercept on July 27, 2015.  (Trevor Aaronson is a contributing writer at The Intercept and executive director of the nonprofit Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Previously, he was a reporter with Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit and a fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley. He has also been an editor and reporter at newspapers in Florida and Tennessee.);

GIST: "Evan  Kohlman is  the U.S. government’s go-to expert witness in terrorism prosecutions. Since 2004, Kohlmann has been asked to testify as an expert about terrorist organizations, radicalization and homegrown threats in more than 30 trials. It’s well-paying work — as much as $400 per hour. In all, the U.S. government has paid Kohlmann and his company at least $1.4 million for testifying in trials around the country, assisting with FBI investigations and consulting with agencies ranging from the Defense Department to the Internal Revenue Service.  He has also received another benefit, Uncle Sam’s mark of credibility, which has allowed him to work for NBC News and its cable sibling, MSNBC, for more than a decade as an on-air “terrorism analyst.” Kohlmann’s claimed expertise is his ability to explore the dark corners of the Internet — the so-called deep web, which isn’t indexed by commercial search engines — and monitor what the Islamic State, al Qaeda and their sympathizers are saying, as well as network the relationships among these various actors. Kohlmann doesn’t speak Arabic, however, and aside from a few days each in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Dubai and Qatar, has hardly any experience in the Arab world. Kohlmann’s research is gleaned primarily from the Internet. Indeed, Kohlmann is not a traditional expert. Much of his research is not peer-reviewed. Kohlmann’s key theory, to which he has testified several times on the witness stand, involves a series of indicators that he claims determine whether someone is likely a homegrown terrorist. Yet he has never tested the theory against a randomly selected control group to account for bias or coincidence. For these and other reasons, Kohlmann’s critics describe him as a huckster.........In a court filing, Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA officer who has been called to the witness stand several times to discredit Kohlmann’s claims, described his testimony and reports as “so biased, one-sided and contextually inaccurate that they do not provide a fair and balanced context for the specific evidence to be presented at a legal hearing.” In recent months, however, the small cohort of defense lawyers nationwide who battle the government in terrorism prosecutions have been asking themselves another question: What’s in the government’s mysteriously classified materials about Kohlmann?.........With his book and stint with the Investigative Project on Terrorism as credentials, Kohlmann became an expert witness for the Justice Department and a consultant for the FBI. An FBI agent described the baby-faced expert as “the Doogie Howser of Terrorism,” and a George Washington University law professor described Kohlmann to New York magazine as having been “grown hydroponically in the basement of the Bush Justice Department.”.........Sageman also alleged in the same report that Kohlmann views his expert testimony not as well-researched and settled science to be discussed honestly at trial, but as a kind of information clay to be molded for the prosecution’s benefit. Referring to a conversation he had with Kohlmann over lunch, Sageman wrote: “He selects what is most supportive for the side that retains him. Indeed, he told me so at one time when I challenged him about his testimony in the [Hammad] Khurshid case in Copenhagen, because he had neglected to mention important facts under oath. He justified his one-sidedness by saying that it was an adversarial process and it was up to the defense attorneys to cross examine him.”........ The primary criticism  of Kohlmann’s work is that his knowledge about terrorist groups and purported expertise are based primarily on Internet research. The other concern is a question of impartiality, and how much information from the deep web Kohlmann may be giving the FBI for investigations. Yet the U.S. Department of Justice continues to employ Kohlmann as an expert witness. Most recently, he was proposed as an expert in the prosecution of Agron Hasbajrami, an Albanian citizen who pleaded guilty on June 26 in New York to attempting and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, before Kohlmann could testify in his trial. In other cases, Kohlmann has testified to the fact that he has assisted the FBI with investigations — but it’s unclear how far Kohlmann’s work crosses the line from independent expert and consultant to paid criminal investigator for the FBI. That’s why, among defense lawyers in terrorism cases, there’s a lot of interest in what the government is hiding in classified materials about Kohlmann.........Jeffrey Aaron, who represented Kabir, asked the judge to force the government to provide the classified materials on Kohlmann. “We felt that he didn’t seem like a legitimate academic expert to us,” Aaron said. “He seemed like an advocate, and it seemed to us that he was a witness who would always find a way to support the government’s case. We suspect that the material under top-secret protection probably dealt with him cooperating with the FBI or being a quasi-government agent. And honestly, we thought that was very disturbing.”

The entire commentary can be found at:


Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bulletin: Rajesh and Nupur Talwar: India; Extraordinary revelations from investigative reporter Avirook Sen's book on the 'Aarushi' case: The judge's son was helping him write his judgment on the case (a bizarre, almost unthinkable happening in a judicial system based on the rule of law - which by itself makes the case cry out for appeal and the immediate release of the couple from prison (HL) - and the shocking, unthinkable revelation that they (this father/son team) were writing the judgment (convicting the Talwars of murder) - even before the defence team's closing arguments had begun. (Yet another reason for promptly ending this disgraceful parody of justice - apart from their innocence. HL): (Must, Must Read. HL); Shree Paradkar: Toronto Star;

"I’ve written about this case in the Star before, laying out the reasons my family believes these are wrongful convictions. Chiefly, I cited lack of credible evidence, lack of an established motive and the absence of murder weapons. The case had been investigated by the powerful Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is like India’s FBI. My cousins had fought a trial where the prosecutors argued in court that the defence not be allowed to call any witnesses at all. Experts gave testimonies substantially different from their original statements to the police (which were on record). Investigators had brushed off evidence that pointed to someone else’s involvement in the murders as “typographical error.” Now comes a book that tells us that the judge and his son were writing the judgment even before the defence team’s closing arguments had begun. Witnesses speak of being pressured to change their statements. The prosecutors’ forensic expert tells the author that his testimony that the parents discovered Aarushi with the cook in her bedroom at night, and murdered both, was just an opinion. “The court took it as fact.” When the author confronts the judge about inventing evidence in the judgment, he is told to “let bygones be bygones.”.........The Aarushi-Hemraj murder judgment was the judge’s last; he retired five days after delivering it. He lives in the northern Indian city of Allahabad, and is setting up a practice with his son Ashutosh Yadav, who is a criminal lawyer. The judged had shunned all media after the trial — until he spoke to Sen. “I travelled to Allahabad, walked into his chamber and wouldn’t go away till he agreed he would grant me an interview,” Sen says. “I had no idea he would open up the way he did, and then there was the unexpected event of his son joining the conversation.” “I just went quiet,” Sen tells me. “I took in the importance of what he had said. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. And when I composed myself, I understood that I was on to something.” The judgment was 210 pages, and although much of it was cut and pasted off other judgments, I was interested in how long it took to write. Ashutosh Yadav, who was extremely happy to have made his own contributions to the document, unwittingly let a secret out: ‘It took more than one month,’ he said. ‘So you had gone to Ghaziabad more than a month before to help out . . . ?’ ‘Yes, I was there,’ said Ashutosh. I took this information in, and did my best to appear deadpan. Because the facts were these: Judge Shyam Lal pronounced his judgment on 25 November 2013. Tanveer Ahmed Mir, counsel for the defence, began his final arguments on 24 October. Over the next two weeks he would argue on a total of 24 circumstances that he felt should lead to acquittal. Seven of these were major points. As Judge Shyam Lal and his son sat down to write the judgment, Mir had not even begun. A critical component of the case against my cousin was the allegation that Hemraj and Aarushi were in her bedroom that night. Investigators felt proving this would establish the motive for murder by the parents. The problem was there was no evidence Hemraj was in her room. His body was discovered a day after Aarushi’s — on the rooftop terrace. There was no evidence of sexual activity on Aarushi’s body. Hemraj’s blood was not in her room, although Aarushi’s was splattered all over the wall and the bed. His hair was not found in her room, nor was his DNA detected there. Then a forensic scientist testified during the trial that Hemraj’s pillow cover had been seized from her room, suggesting his presence there. When the defence team challenged this and when, over loud objections from prosecutors, the pillow cover was unsealed in court, the tag on it read that it had been seized from Hemraj’s own room. Sen was there when this happened. It’s also in the court records. Yet, Shyam Lal’s judgment puts Hemraj in Aarushi’s room by saying, “it becomes abundantly clear that Hemraj’s DNA has been found on the pillow cover which was recovered from the room of Aarushi.” The book details a cringe-inducing interaction between journalist and judge on this discrepancy. Here, the judge switches between Hindi and English. As I sat across him in his Allahabad home, I asked Shyam Lal whether he remembered the day in court when the CBI had to admit they had lied about Hemraj’s pillowcase being found in Aarushi’s room. ‘Yes, yes . . ..‘But in the judgment you returned a finding that the pillow cover was recovered from Aarushi’s room . . .’ Shyam Lal stiffened up slightly: ‘Dekhiye (Look), I cannot remember . . . har ek chhoti cheez aise . . .’ (every small thing). ‘But it was a very major thing,’ I went on. ‘Nahin (No), but what is the point of some controversy? I cannot remember . . . iss time pe . . .’ (at this time) ‘Sir, I find it very hard to believe that . . .’ ‘I cannot remember, I will not give you some hypothetical answer . . . Dekhiye, let bygones be bygones . . .’

Bulletin: Kelli Jacobsen; Washington State; Prosecution rests in Jacobsen trial: Emergency room nurse testifies: "He had said to her that things weren't adding up and it seemed like there was more to the story cause of the severity of his injuries then at that time I heard her say to him "does this mean I'm gonna be in trouble."I heard her say "I can't believe I did this." Defense began calling witnesses today, beginning with Jacobsen's best friend who has known her for 15 years.";

"The prosecution wrapped up it's case today against former Richland nanny Kelli Jacobsen, and the defense began calling witnesses to the stand. 31-year-old Jacobsen is charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of one year old Ryder Morrison back in 2011. He died from major head trauma shortly after being in Jacobsen's care. Monday a Kadlec emergency room nurse testified for the prosecution, telling the jury about comments she heard Jacobsen make as the child was being examined. "He had said to her that things weren't adding up and it seemed like there was more to the story cause of the severity of his injuries then at that time I heard her say to him "does this mean I'm gonna be in trouble."I heard her say "I can't believe I did this," testifed nurse Shelley Goldstein. The defense began calling witnesses today, beginning with Jacobsen's best friend who has known her for 15 years."